For Disney fans or lovers of theatre in general, a ticket to The Lion King musical should be on the top of your ‘WANT’ list. With powerful vocals, catchy songs and elaborate puppetry, it’s a musical that will have you engrossed.
The story told is simple but heartwarming, staying true to the plot of the original 1994 film. Simba, a young lion prince, questions whether or not he can take his place as king of the Savanna after he is convinced it is his fault his father died. It is also a tale of friendship and love, all told through uplifting and catchy tunes. The musical contains songs that aren’t in the original motion picture, but fit neatly into the story. Be warned: for days after you might have ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’ running repeatedly through your head.
The contemporary dance sequences set to the rhythm of tribal drums are captivating. During several of them, the actors free themselves of the animal puppets and wear brightly coloured, traditional African outfits. They dance in an exaggerated but fluid way, expressing the joys and sadness of the main characters.
It is the amazing puppetry and set-design, however, which make the musical a must-see. The transformations on set are dramatic but seamless. The bright Savanna with Pride Rock at its centre changes into the dark setting of the Elephant Graveyard before your eyes. Some settings are spectacularly creative to follow the plot of the film; especially the scene where a buffalo stampede takes place. Huge puppets turn actors into a range of wild animals including a leopard, gazelles, even a giraffe and an elephant. Note: the baby elephant is particularly adorable.
Once seen it is easy to understand how the musical has remained an unwavering attraction in Sydney since last December. With impressive sets, costumes, dancing and singing, it is an engaging show which creates characters you can fall in love with. There are many shows to come, with the musical finishing in Sydney in August and moving to Brisbane in September and Melbourne of 2015.